1 in 8 women under 40 are likely to develop breast cancer. It's about time we speak about breasts and women's health without any secrecy. Here are 10 things you should know now.
According to The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging, women who are as young as 30 are recommended to take a risk or genetic test to know the kind of cancer screening they need.
Even though breast cancer is relatively rare in younger women, the numbers are increasing. Approximately 7 percent of women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. Since the signs aren't detected early, the survival rates for younger women are lower than older women, according to the National Institute of Health.
A thorough screening process will detect early signs of breast cancer in younger women under 40. Genetics play a role in early detection. Current stats reveal that 1 in 8 young women are likely to develop breast cancer if a person in their family has had it.
Here is how you can keep yourself safe and informed.
Breast cancer is one of the major reasons for death among young women in America, the youngest group being 15-34 years. It is, therefore, important to be aware of your own body. Get familiar with the shape of your breasts, the size, the way they feel during the menstrual cycle etc. Any sudden change in shape, size, the appearance of lumps or cysts, need to be reported to the doc right away.
You should be able to know and assess the feelings and kind of sensations you feel in your breast. To learn how to do it, you should see a doctor who will teach you how to self-examine your breasts at regular intervals. If you are aware of the breast self-exam, then any kind of change you feel in your breast will caution you to go see a doctor immediately.
The risk factors include certain inherited genetic mutations for breast cancer (BRC A1 and/or BRCA2); mother, sister or daughter who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in their early age; high dose of radiation to the chest; obesity; any personal history of ovary or colon cancer; heavy alcohol consumption and sedentary lifestyle.
If you have been observing your breasts properly, then any sort of change in its shape will be visible to you. Look out for any lump around your breast or even under your arms. Don't stay on the surface. Apply slight pressure to feel for cysts that could be under the surface.
You should be able to differentiate between what is normal and what is abnormal in your body. Keep a track of the size of your breast as well. Look out for visible changes in the shape, texture, and border of your nipples. Is it pushed inward as in have they become inverted?
Look for any soreness, rash, and redness around the breast area and if there is any random discharge from nipples in the form of blood, milk, yellow fluid or even watery liquid. Normally the tissue around breasts are lumpy, therefore, it is important to know your breasts including the curves.
Women are not comfortable talking about their breasts as much as they are about their hair, nose, or skin. But this needs to change. When you talk about this important aspect, you get to know what is normal and not, you learn from what other women share, and know when to ask for help.
If you think something is off, don't let fear stop you from seeing a doctor. The sooner you get it checked, the better chances to detect it early before it gets late. And in case you do get diagnosed, the treatment is likely to be smoother when it is sooner than later.
Picking the right doctor is important. Do some research. Experience matters, but so does expertise. Don't go just by the age. Above all, it is important that you pick a doctor with whom you are comfortable.
Ensure your doctor is aware of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) treatment guidelines. You can ask them about it, while you discuss your symptoms. The guidelines will help the doctor provide you with the right tests and treatment depending on your specific symptoms.
Keep a record of all your ailments, including the minor ones. Every symptom will help your doctor understand your body and medical history better. Also, the doctor is likely to ask you about your family's medical history. Be sure to include not just your immediate family; mention aunts, cousins, too, who had cancer of any form.
It is always advisable to go for a second opinion before deciding to undergo any treatment, especially the aggressive treatment. It doesn't mean you don't trust your primary doctor, you just want to be sure that this is the best course for you.
Seeking second opinion enables you to make the right choice by giving you more options to explore. Get different opinions from docs with different experiences and specializations before you zero in on a method that is right for you.
When it comes to asking questions, never hesitate or refrain yourself from asking anything that comes to mind. Clear all your doubts without hesitating. After all, it is your body and your life may be at stake. Not everyone is aware of the medical terms that are used by doctors. If you don't understand a process or term, ask them to explain it to you.
You will have to participate in the conversation with your doctor. You should be able to ask about precautions, treatments, and preventions in order to be 100% involved in it. Whether you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or not, take notes while you are with the doctor for future reference.
No matter what happens, you must do a little more research than what you may do in other circumstances when it comes to important decisions about health. Feeling scared is normal, but don't let it freeze you. Talk to friends, family, survivors, and get information from health experts and online forums.
Disclaimer: The article does not give any medical diagnosis of any kind and does not intend to mislead its readers. If you think you have any of these signs, consult a doctor.